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Episode 7: Aaron Ross

B2B Tonight Transcript

Ryan O'Hara:

Hi, everyone, welcome to B2B tonight. I'm your host Rishi Mathur. With me is Ryan O'Hara. He's really good looking.

Rishi Mathur:

I'm okay, but Rishi is the real star. It's all about him. My name sucks. It's just so boring.

Ryan O'Hara:

What? Wait a minute.

Rishi Mathur:

Ryan, urgh!

Ryan O'Hara:

All right, for people that don't know, I'm really Ryan O'Hara. That's Rishi over there, that dumpster pile of a human being.

Rishi Mathur:

Oh, man. I'm going to sue you one day.

Ryan O'Hara:

Let's get to today's show. I'm pretty excited about this. This guest is someone that I have looked up to for many years. If you are a sales leader and you have not read Predictable Revenue, shame on you. Everybody pretty much has read it at some point. It's been called the Bible of sales for Silicon Valley. He recently wrote a book with Jason Lemkin. Note we're going to talk about a little bit on this episode, hopefully. But we have Aaron Ross on today. Before we jump into Aaron Ross though, Rishi, I want to let you know there's been some interesting things going on in the world at this point.

Ryan O'Hara:

Recently, I had to go to the Hampstead office to check things out a little bit. I wanted to see how the situation is. We have an office in Hempstead, New Hampshire. It's really remote and off there off the grid in New Hampshire. But we haven't been there since March. One day we obscurely decided there was an outbreak in the next town for COVID, and we decided, "Let's pull the plug. Let's stop having people come into work." Everybody just came in one last day, grabbed all their stuff, that they needed, office equipment if they wanted to borrow it and brought it home, and I thought it'd be cool to go check out the office after not being there for three months. Let's take a look, shall we?

Ryan O'Hara:

Hello, everyone, Ryan O'Hare here. We're going to go investigate the office. We haven't been here since March 6th, 2020 due to COVID-19. This is our first time looking at the office and seeing what we got. Here we are in the darkness with all these papers and bills. We had a lot of water obviously get delivered, which is a little strange. It's kind of dark in here. Let's turn on the lights. Somebody forgot to pay the electric bill. I'll be right back. We're back and holy hell is it hot in here. It's funny, I guess we didn't turn the heat off. I want to look at the office here. We actually set up a bunch of office chairs for any return team, and then they ended up having to work from home.

Ryan O'Hara:

It's really sad. Let's go check out Sabrina's desk. Oh, this is tragic. She had Samoa Girl Scout cookies and they're open and they went to waste. This is so tragic. Girl Scout cookies haven't been on sale for months. Let's go check out upstairs. Really curious to see how things have changed since March up here. All right, let's go check out the kitchen. I'm a little terrified to open this fridge, because the electricity has been out. Let's hopefully there's no food in it. This is the grossest thing I've ever seen. Hey, Hot Pockets. You want a Hot Pocket?

Speaker 4:

No.

Ryan O'Hara:

I wouldn't either. Jeremy's literally been in a meeting since March. The poor prospect is just dying to get off the phone but he won't give up. He doesn't know any other stuff has happened. Look at that view out there. Remember, you could walk out there at the sea and wonder what kind of man you are. They say sometimes that in the afterlife, man comes back as a weathering storm there to punish people for the things they've done. It's also sometimes a nice place for sunsets. Let's go check out the SDR office. Yeah, no one's been here since March.

Ryan O'Hara:

Prior to COVID, before we shut down the office, I ordered a new dartboard. You can see that they failed to put it up on the wall several times. They might be great at selling but these guys are not very good at hanging dartboards. Bull's eye. You know what makes me really sad that I'm not looking forward to it? Coming back to work and having John Mozzie here. What kind of asshole wins a fantasy football, then prints out his own banner and hangs it on his wall in his office. That's bush league Mozzie. That's bush league. (singing). Did I turn the heat off? I think I did. I'm fine.

Rishi Mathur:

How'd you forget to pay the electric bill?

Ryan O'Hara:

Listen, Rishi, I am a responsible ...

Rishi Mathur:

You're our leader. You should be on top of this.

Ryan O'Hara:

I am a responsible human being with lots of responsibilities. No one's mindset was right back then. We didn't know what was going to happen. Let's get to it. This next guest probably needs no introduction. He co-authored Predictable Revenue. He recently wrote a book, Impossible to Inevitable with Jason Lemkin from SaaStr. I'm a big fan of Jason too. He has helped sales teams ... Salesforce. Toyo, Zora, you go down the list, this guy's the banger of bangers live from Edinburgh, Scotland, pronounced correctly.

Rishi Mathur:

I think Edinburgh.

Ryan O'Hara:

Edinburgh.

Rishi Mathur:

Hang on, it's something Edinburgh.

Ryan O'Hara:

It's like a Scottish surfer. What's Edinburgh?

Rishi Mathur:

Edinburgh.

Ryan O'Hara:

What's going on Edinburgh? I think I'm saying right. Anyway, he's also co-founder and co-CEO of predictablerevenue.com. Everyone say hi to Aaron Ross.

Aaron Ross:

Hi.

Ryan O'Hara:

Doesn't it feel weird doing that?

Aaron Ross:

[inaudible 00:06:18].

Ryan O'Hara:

I'm really excited. I had to clear the air about something for people that are watching this. I was once on your podcast. I was talking about this, before you hopped on. I was once on your podcast. When I did the podcast episode, I was in my office and the AC was broken. It was like 90 degrees outside. I remember, I thought that the podcast was only going to be audio and I was just wearing a white t-shirt with sweat and super gross dirty pit stains and stuff. A couple weeks later, I saw a post of the podcast and it was done, I realized the video was [inaudible 00:06:52] with the podcast. I just want to let you know, I don't normally look like I rolled out of bed. I usually would normally be nicer, just our air conditioning was broken.

Aaron Ross:

Okay, if you say so. But also, I don't know for sure, but I would imagine that the number of people who actually watch the videos of podcast is probably 10% or at least maybe a lot of business podcasts, is probably a 10th of the actual people who listen, so your reputation I'm sure is intact for most of the world.

Ryan O'Hara:

Yeah, the 10% people that saw it probably are terribly disappointed. Today for a topic, that's a great transition. But today for a topic, we're going to talk to Aaron about trying to get the most out of your sales reps. I think that there's a huge problem. These are some stats that I've looked up before the show that are crazy. According to Salesforce, less than 50%, sorry, 15% of reps will actually hit quota this year, meaning that and that's even pre-pandemic, pre-world shutdown, economic shutdown stuff. There's a huge chunk of reps that will miss quota.

Ryan O'Hara:

They won't be great at their jobs. Some of them might be out of jobs. The average tenure for a sales rep is eight months from what I've heard. You start doing all this math and there's got to be a reason that a lot of reps miss. It can't just be that they don't want to work hard or they're lazy. It could be something with motivation. I want to dive into that as a big topic for today.

Aaron Ross:

Sure, that's a great one. A couple other stats. I know it's not this year, but in the past studies have shown that attrition on a sales team, a B2B sales team in regular years, this year is obviously not regular, it's 27%. I means it's more than a quarter of your team quits or gets fired over the whole year. Salesforce I don't know if they have 3,000 reps, I'm sure they have multiple thousands. If that holds true, and I think it does for them, they'd be turning over almost 1,000 reps a year. Then another stat I saw just a few days ago was that, 41% of people are feeling burned out now with the pandemic.

Aaron Ross:

I don't know what it was before. Actually, I'd be curious to see pre-pandemic it was less and maybe it was more and it's gone down. But I think they're trying to say it's more. Even with people working at home, there's more burnout. But the point is, a lot of people and not a surprise, people struggle, salespeople struggle. There's a lot of reasons for it. By the way, there's a lot of structural reasons for that. Quotas are too high and specialized sales enough and et cetera, et cetera. But I think, let's start with what I see even in my own company talking to people is a lot of people, and I don't think it's a third.

Aaron Ross:

I'm just going to pick the number, because I feel it's a third of our company. A lot of people are really dispirited right now more than ever. There's a lot going on in the world. This was before the race riots and-

Ryan O'Hara:

Yeah.

Aaron Ross:

... [crosstalk 00:09:44]. There's a lot of reasons so there's not one. All the change, these financial pressures, people trying to work from home. Some love it, some don't. There's just a lot of stuff. But let's just say a third of people are feeling anxious, scared, uncertain, dispirited, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, and it's like a struggle to get to the job and put on to do it.

Ryan O'Hara:

You mentioned a lot, one of the problems that you see a lot of companies do is they set up things where the quota's too high. Do you think companies should be adjusting their quota, because of what's going on right now too?

Aaron Ross:

A lot of companies for sure should be. Again, if you bucket, there's obviously a lot of companies that have hit the wall and just their depth of water. There's a lot of companies that are doing better. They got a tailwind. In that case, actually, quotas are probably, maybe they stay the same, maybe they go up, we don't know. There's a lot of companies in that middle ground where they are impacted, and it might be a little bit, it might be a lot. Maybe there's a 20% reduction, maybe there's a 50% reduction. I think what has to happen, and it's been a couple months.

Aaron Ross:

It depends on the company. But if you're still being affected by the COVID situation with sales and whatever's going on in the world, and you're keeping the quotas from last year, or whatever you set up for 2020 as your quota, that just doesn't help anybody. I understand especially bigger companies have so much pressure, to maintain the number for the year until the last minute and then you miss. But if you have a quota that's high and just completely unrealistic, because again in the market you're in, and again, maybe even in regular times, 30% of reps I think miss quota and that's even too high. Maybe that just seems really high. To me, the right stat is less than 10% of your reps should churn per year, not 30%.

Rishi Mathur:

Oh, sorry about that. Obviously, there's a lot of things that can cause it, but why do you think reps miss quota? Is it caused by the stress you're talking about?

Aaron Ross:

I think these days I'm thinking there's a mix. One of the most common reasons is because quotas haven't been basically redone from scratch, and they should be. That could be activity quotas. That could be actual sales quotas, SDR quotas. For a lot of companies, you need to throw away your old quotas and just almost take a week to week or bi-week to bi-week, or maybe month to month now, look at what were we able to accomplish last month? What can we accomplish? What do we hope we can accomplish next month? Because the surprises aren't done with the whole pandemic.

Aaron Ross:

There's some loosening up. Shocker, the virus spiked again. Who knows what's going to happen? You just have a much more agile mindset. I get it, if you're especially like a public company, there's a lot of reasons with a company where it's ... There's so much pressure, an anti ... They feel like they need the illusion, it's the illusion of predictability. There's so much pressure to not, against people who'd say, "Hey, you know what, I need you to do this month by month." There's so many forces against that. It takes a lot of courage at every level to say, "You know what, that's just not the case of the world in our business.

Aaron Ross:

We just have to have some goals, but not to behold them lightly and be ready for things to change as we go right now."

Ryan O'Hara:

I was really excited Aaron, to see that you wrote a book with Jason Lemkin, because I've been a big SaaStr follower for years. I probably was drinking from a sippy cup with apple slices as a little kid reading SaaStr at one point.

Rishi Mathur:

Wait, you're drinking apple slices from a sippy cup?

Ryan O'Hara:

I screwed up the joke, Rishi, all right? There's no reason to be like this. No, I've been reading SaaStr for a long time and stuff. I was really excited to see you did something, because it's like my two people coming together and making something. You talk about running sales teams agilely, almost like you're doing sprints in two week periods of time and looking at stuff. I think that's a refreshing and new idea. How do you do that? What's a good way to do that? Do you just look at what happened the past two weeks? How do you do it actually?

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, well when you have special situations like this. This could actually be, so basically you're in a tremendous amount of turmoil, or you haven't had predictability yet. Maybe you're a startup and you don't have like a track record. Like you said, yeah, I know there's a lot of teams that were looking at metrics again, SDR teams or sales teams week by week, especially when things were really going down a couple months ago with lockdowns and everyone working from home. I know, P. Crosby's a well known CRO in the UK, and same thing he says is, "This is ..."

Aaron Ross:

He's not active today, but he said, "I would look at things week by week, what happened last week, what do you think we can do next week and almost recreate your goals, and the way you might even comp people week by week until there's a little bit more regularity." Even right now, we have this moment, and we don't know how long it'll last. Currently, it's an early issue June 2020, where there's a bit more routine. There's salesmen picking up. We see it in our business. We hear from people. Is that going to last? No one knows. I think a lot of times it's just being, again, having a goal, but that's not as having a ...

Aaron Ross:

Maybe not having a quota. Really the goal is when you don't have predictability yet, just trying things, kind of week by week and really the main goal is learning. Whether you hit the number or not, it's like, "Hey, did we learn something that didn't work? Do we learn something that did work, so we have a little more insight into what to do next?" That's like, the faster you can learn, the faster you can get to a place of being more capable, and be able to hit or exceed your goals.

Ryan O'Hara:

It's almost like what you're doing, if your end all goal is to have predictable revenue from your sales team. Because things are so unpredictable right now you decrease the forecasting to be inaccurate and stuff, by shortening that period that you're predicting what's going to happen. It's a lot easier to figure out what's going to happen a week from now, versus what's going to happen three weeks from now. I think that's a great point.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, then over time ... I think I can fix my audio here I just realized. Over time, you get some more insights, and some more of a track record and you can get to be more predictable. Hopefully, that'll last for a while. We've just seen, again, this illusion ... Sometimes predictability is an illusion. Ultimately, having a predictable system is not the main thing that makes you successful. The main thing that ultimately makes someone successful, I believe or one of them, is having the confidence to be able to meet challenges head on no matter what they are, especially as an entrepreneur.

Aaron Ross:

I saw someone, I don't remember the name, but someone said he started a company and at first it was exciting. Then every day felt like he was getting punched in the face. All right, and whether you're a parent or an entrepreneur, think about all the CEOs and boards of companies who've basically gone out of business in the last few months, [crosstalk 00:16:59] public companies. Basically being able ... The punches are coming. The good times come, the punches come. You got to be able to roll with both of them. That's really more even more fundamental than having predictable systems. We can call it predictable confidence.

Ryan O'Hara:

Not to freak people out, too. I think one of the things that people aren't thinking about is, yeah, there might be things that are ... Like almost getting canceled right now, like retailers, a couple of them are going out of business. Travel companies are having a lot of trouble and stuff. But there's actually a huge domino effect that happens with all these things. When travel companies don't meet their goals that they're hitting, they can't pay their debts off, which impacts banks, which means banks are less likely to give loans out to other companies that might need ...

Ryan O'Hara:

There's all these complicated things happening in the economy right now, that aren't just going to undo themselves when all this stuff's over either or if it ever ends.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, and we're still in a false ... The real recession hasn't hit yet, because government is still propping up payrolls and companies, and that's not ... We're going to see how long that lasts. When that stops, we'll see. We have, I think it's a false sense of security right now.

Ryan O'Hara:

I want to talk a little-

Aaron Ross:

[crosstalk 00:18:10] on the health and lockdown front.

Ryan O'Hara:

Oh, sorry, go ahead.

Aaron Ross:

Financially the economy is also in the health and lockdown front.

Ryan O'Hara:

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about, we're trying to dive into something here that I heard that was super profound from you. We want to learn a little bit more about like, what's separating the reps that do well? That's something that I've heard you've been doing a lot of research and learning about right now. What makes a rep do a lot better at selling versus another rep besides the system? Who makes it through? You obviously know, there's lots of sales methodology that's out there. There's people that do the challenger sale. There's people that have different roles, that are like-

Aaron Ross:

[Sandler 00:18:53].

Ryan O'Hara:

Yeah, [inaudible 00:18:54]. You go down the whole list of all these training methodologies and stuff. One thing that I think a lot of them don't necessarily look at is personality traits and being enabled in a certain way. What are the good reps doing? What are the things that you're noticing from being on the beat and keeping an eye on what's going on right now?

Aaron Ross:

Well, I think there's something that good and best reps have always done, but it's going to be more important than ever, is it's basically having the confidence to not be dependent on copycat success and copycat techniques. Let's step back for a second. The world is more connected than ever. That means if a technique works ... This could be in marketing as well as sales. Let's just say sales. It gets copied; it gets shared faster than ever. People learn from that faster than ever and they try it faster than ever. I don't use this, it's not copycat in a bad way. It's just good ideas spread faster.

Aaron Ross:

The faster good idea spreads, the faster it stops working well, because once everyone's doing a good idea, it stops being a good idea, because everyone's zigging and then you got to zag someplace else. I know so many people in companies are relying on this, "Well, just tell me what template I should send? Or just tell me what to do." Because everyone again is oftentimes stressed, busy, they don't have a lot of mental energy to sit and figure things out. There's a lot of copying from let's say email templates or LinkedIn techniques. Again that's copycat successes.

Aaron Ross:

I wouldn't say it's the beginning or the end of it. I think that's a good soundbite, but copycat success will never stop. What it means is, that real reps that are going to be more successful have the confidence to try their own things. I would say even find their own voice. I call it unique genius. I everyone's got a signal. Everyone's got things they believe in, a message, a medium, a way they want to make a difference in the world, things they feel excited about, the way they want to communicate. Clearly I can't communicate. The way they want to communicate to others.

Aaron Ross:

Again, think about founders, [inaudible 00:21:11] Gary. An easy one's Gary V, right?

Ryan O'Hara:

Yeah.

Aaron Ross:

He's out there. He has things he cares about. He's willing to say them. He has his channels. He's able to express himself fully in the world and he's been successful for it. Everyone has the potential to do something like that. But too many sales reps and again, I don't know if it's 80%. It's most, and this is true of most people too. But most sales reps are at work. They're just like sales ... It's almost like, they're all too similar, right? They're all doing the same sequences and thinking the same thoughts and saying the same things, and afraid to stray out of the box.

Aaron Ross:

Everyone who's in that box, again, everyone is a unique genius. Everyone has the ability to bring their own flavor of topic and conversation to what they're doing. If I'm a sales rep, it might be the words I use in an email. It might be adding a picture. It might be adding a certain emoji. It might be actually being more comfortable with video. It might be even more comfortable with LinkedIn. It might be more comfortable talking. There's so many ways or maybe bringing other ways I want to communicate to people like art, or song or poetry or books.

Aaron Ross:

I'll give you an example. Obviously, for me, in writing Predictable Revenue, and Impossible, there's art in those books, so you go back and look at it. The covers for example, I did that art. That was just me messing around being like, "You know what, I kind of like ... This is fun. Sure, I'll just put it in ..." This was over a few years. I want to add it to the books, just because I wanted to. There's people who've done now like, do the rap songs and music videos on let's say LinkedIn mixing like Nick Mehta from Gainsight, [inaudible 00:22:58] second. Has done that and having fun and mixing mediums and messages into things that are different.

Aaron Ross:

When everyone's copying the same email template, it's going to stop working. What can you do as a rep, as a person and as a company, I think it applies too? But especially as a single salesperson, to like tap into really writing from the heart and communicate from the heart. If you believe in your product, what are the words you would say? How would you say them and not just copying the templates everyone else is doing? That's one version. That's probably one expression of unique genius. I think it's incredibly important to sales reps today. It's going to be 10 times as important over the coming years as everything is noisier and noisier and noisier, because that's where the world's going.

Ryan O'Hara:

I talk about this a lot with people when we look at cold emails and help them. When you write a cold email, if Jim and Jill are both on your team writing cold emails to people, they should be very different and have their fingerprints all over it. If they're doing cold calls the way that Jill does something and the way that Jim says something, should be different because their personalities are different. They have different upbringings, different experiences, different people that they know. A big part of that is trying to figure out how to do that exactly.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, man. Sorry Rishi.

Rishi Mathur:

Oh, no worries. I was going to ask both you guys a question actually on top of that, so Mr. Ryan and Sir Aaron how do you get your reps to act like themselves? You're talking about us finding your voice and stuff? How does that happen? It takes a while for that and how can you understand what is your voice and how to constantly keep hitting it, because sometimes you do it by accident?

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, sorry I'm actually on the Lord not a sir here in Scotland.

Rishi Mathur:

Sorry about lord.

Ryan O'Hara:

Get it right Rishi. Get it right.

Aaron Ross:

Funny, I've have actually ... Years ago I went online and for 50 bucks got titles for myself and my wife as Scottish Lord and Lady. We bought a square foot of land someplace in Scotland. We know we live here. I actually have pieces of paper, I'm an official Scottish Lord. Fun fact. I don't know the website but I think you Google it, you can find it. It might have been 60 bucks, I don't know. Okay, go back to the question. Great question. All right, what do I do? How do I start? I spent a lot of time on this session 10 years ago. I created a whole unique genius set of thinking and even like a coaching program.

Aaron Ross:

I put that on the shelf a long time ago, because when I got married, and I had to make a lot more money to support our family, my niche at that time has been outbound prospecting, predicted revenue. I'm coming back to it. I [inaudible 00:25:35] come back and rethink this because now I [inaudible 00:25:36] of experience and living it myself. But some things that are important are, first of all, there's no ... Here's a simple way to start in fact. This might be the simplest. In our company ... Now, let's go back to another kind of I call it version of unique genius. We started by talking about dispirited sales reps.

Aaron Ross:

Well, there's dispirited people everywhere. But let's talk about dispirited sales reps. In our company, I was like, "Well, I know that lots of people are stressed and uncertain. I know that something that people can do, because I've seen this before is if they take a project or a passion, and start to make some progress on it, whatever that is, it doesn't matter if it's at home or personal, something they care about." I know that this also is the best time ever to recreate yourself, more disruption ... We have this reset button that's been hit on how you want to work, when you want to work, from where. It's a blank page.

Aaron Ross:

Again, never been a better time to write the book you've had. It's never been a better time to learn the instrument you want to do, or whatever it is, you feel is important, because we all have ideas that have been on the shelf. You just can't do them all. For me, I've been doing more guitar and more walks and more drawing. I even wrote a little short story. It's a little ... baby steps. By the way, baby steps are really magic here as we'll get to. In the company, I sent an email out saying, "Hey, I know everyone ..." One thing that I want to just help encourage people to do is, to take ideas you've got on the shelf and passions and like get some traction with them."

Aaron Ross:

Every week we've been having a call. Right now we're doing it three weeks a month. We're still testing the format. I'll describe it to you if you want to try it or someone here listens to them. I'd love to try to find some kits and people can do it. But it's really simple is, you get on a call. I think the best size is probably like five to 12 people. You could have less or more. Too many people, it's harder. I think there's a magic number like eight to 12 ish. But people go round, maybe talk a bit about themselves, but especially what is the thing they want to make progress on?

Aaron Ross:

There's people who want to do again, write stories. We've had people who want to write music, write a sales book, become more of a marketing influencer, become more of a fitness influencer, just the whole gamut. Everyone shares that. First of all, what happens is, they get a lot of encouragement and acceptance first, because you'll see people are still like, "I don't know, can I do this?" They hear a bunch of people saying, "Yeah, I want to see that," because it's true. We want to see this come out of people. Then they talk about, it's also like, what's the next step they could do over the next day or week?

Aaron Ross:

What's just a baby step they can take, and talking publicly about taking a step creates more accountability and more possibility, and it makes it more real. People start to ... Someone like wrote their first blog post, more than one person and they're great. What you see is they talk about these personal things, they find acceptance, they find this attraction. It really created so much this momentum and energy and inspiration for people who are doing this. Now, this comes and goes because life is a rollercoaster.

Aaron Ross:

That's one step. You got to do this week after week or month after month, and people will fall off and people will come back on. But that's something that only brought more life to the employees in the sales team, enthusiasm. It's like helping people tap into that unique set of attributes, interests and messages and mediums that they want to communicate through. Again, whether that's music, art, some people want to do painting. It also creates more connection in the company. One thing I've seen is that all, the Zoom meetings end up ... You end up feeling flat with people, because you're not getting the same personal details or stories as if you're hanging out with another person.

Aaron Ross:

This is at least one way where I've seen a recreation of more connection across, a real connection across people where they really care about each other and they're supporting each other. In other words, anytime you can take one of your interests or passions or maybe you have a whisper, these little things in your mind or your heart that you ignore because they're not practical, like you want to start a nonprofit or you want to travel or you want to quit your job, or you want to become an artist. For me, maybe this like creating music and I've never ever thought about that, but, I don't know.

Aaron Ross:

I'm not an engineer. I know engineering, and I've never thought of myself as a musician. But I guess I could be. I'm not sure if I want to be yet, but I never even considered it. But now, I'm like I don't know. That's a start. Interest and passions that resonate with you, so when you are talking on the phone with someone, when you're communicating via email, or LinkedIn, or whether it's posting on LinkedIn, or a message that is going to start to come out with practice. The competence of being able to know what you have is valuable, the way you want to share is valuable, that people are going to care about it, and to try it and to keep trying it, because it takes a lot of practice to find that signal that you can tune into your own personal radio signal and communicate it with confidence. That was a long answer to the question. But that's-

Ryan O'Hara:

I love it. This is exactly what it I want people to hear, and it's better coming from you than from me.

Aaron Ross:

I don't know.

Ryan O'Hara:

I come from a school of thought that when you're selling, you're selling to extraordinary people, and extraordinary people want to be reached out to you by other extraordinary people. The best way to do that is by being unique, different, do some stuff that's [inaudible 00:31:25]. This whole show that we're doing, this is our fifth or sixth episode that we've done now. This is, I think it's our sixth one. This all started because I hate webinars. I'm tired of them. I'm tired of being on slide dumps with people and watching them. I was thinking, I asked Rishi ...

Ryan O'Hara:

Rishi's a comedian when he's not working and we hired him as a content guy. I literally thought like, "I hired Rishi last year trying to get this thing off the ground," and COVID finally gave us the excuse to finally do it. You're now hitting the nail on the head. Right now is the time to innovate and try experiments and put passion into it. I want to do stuff that's blending like comedy with business. I want to make people entertained. Last week, we did an episode or two weeks ago, we did an episode with Casey Jones. In the episode, we did a bit called sales the musical, where we made ...

Ryan O'Hara:

We did a trailer for a fake musical being made about sales. I make music. I literally use that guitar back there and just attract a bunch of tracks. I'm terrible at singing. But we just made a bunch of songs that were like, what would a musical sound like if someone did a musical about sales? I did it because like, I want to splice in my fun music making self into my work life.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, that's a great example. I think it's easy to get discouraged, because you might do that one time, and maybe it works out. You might have fun with it hopefully, but then maybe you don't get the results. We're so attached to wanting results. A lot of the point of the early days is just tuning into what feels good and making some progress, even little baby steps. How often do we not take any step at all, because we just don't ... Like it's too big. Talking about, even racism, people are like, "Hey, how do you change society?" Then it's so easy to be like, "Well, this is too big a problem."

Aaron Ross:

Versus like, "What's a small ..." Any small step you can take. Same thing here, you got it ... The thing is, you can take steps. It can take years to really ... Who knows how long it takes. Everyone's different. But you can't say, "It's going to take me X months or X years." What you can say is, "This is something I really care about. This also just because I care about it. I don't have to justify it. I just want to do it and I'm going to do it. If I keep doing it, breakthroughs will happen at some point." I know that that's true. Especially in the early days, when you're not seeing any results from it, people may not like it.

Aaron Ross:

You just got to keep going. I see this in my wife and a lot of other creators. She's been writing as a playwright for a while and she's had her struggle. She has great ideas, and she's still learning. She's going to put plays and she's got great ideas. I can tell it's just a question of when not if she hits the success that she wants to hit. She's already been successful by any other standard, but in her mind, her bar is high. I feel like there's a lot of people that ... One thing I've learned because I'm coming on 50. There's lots of I haven't learned yet, but one thing I have learned is, that when I was younger, there's things I felt in my heart or my gut or my body or whatever you want to call it, that I just felt were going to be true. I would end up getting married.

Aaron Ross:

I didn't really have strong feelings about kids honestly. That's been a whole surprise to me, this big family or adoption. That's a whole other surprise. But I always felt I'd make a lot of money. That was just going to happen. I felt like I'd be successful. That was going to happen. I see this ... I don't know when, I see this in my teenage daughter. She's always believed she was young, she's going to be famous and make money and I'm like, "Yeah, I see that." My wife, I see that she just has this belief that she's going to be a famous writer. It's not about being famous, that's not ...

Aaron Ross:

But I think what happens is, that's probably true. I believe, I call these echoes from the future, that there's something in whether you believe in time or dah, dah, dah, that some part of you knows that something's going to happen in your life, and you can't tell at all how, when or where. That's impossible. Trust yourself. If you feel like something is important, like you need to go someplace, or you need to be something or pick up something, listen to that. When we get into this, why hasn't it happened yet? That's when we shoot ourselves in the foot. Again, it's going to happen.

Aaron Ross:

I don't know when. It's when not if I think is really helpful towards getting these breakthroughs in your life, including with money. Sometimes the best way to make money is to not focus on the money. This is the hard part, sometimes you got to really focus on it, and sometimes you got to focus on other things, because the route to money for most people ... For some people it's very straight. There's some people who are just born with it. I don't feel like I was that type of person. For some people it's very roundabout. I can see like, probably a lot ...

Aaron Ross:

The main reason I make a lot more money saved than I used to, 10 or 11 times years ago is because I have a family. If you'd asked me, "What was the key secret for me to make lots of money? To get married and have kids?" I would have thought that doesn't make any sense, but that's really been my motivation, my fuel to keep developing myself and get better as a person, as a parent, as a business person. Everyone's path is different. It's a kind of, I guess, again, the short answer is if there's things that feel important to you, for whatever reason it is, just trust them. There's a reason for it. You just may not know what it is yet, till you get there.

Rishi Mathur:

I had a quick question. If you get reps to put themselves into their things that they want to do, would that get them to perform better? Is that like that correlation there?

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, we have a great rep who, even our head of sales or head of revenue, just saying like, "Wow, he's just like, so good. He's getting better," and he's new to sales. He started with us at Predictable Revenue; I'm going to guess like four years ago. He did inbound, outbound SDR stuff for like, let's call it a year. Maybe he's been the actual AE for, maybe it's two years actually. But on the side, he has a music production business. Again, he's someone that has a side business that's completely separate, in a lot of ways. But the thing is, there's more cross learnings, whatever you do, there's always things you can cross learn from.

Aaron Ross:

He's awesome. Would you think that the production business could be competitive for attention? Maybe. Could it be energizing and complimentary because he's doing a bunch of other things, and learning a whole other set of interests and skills that could be related to him as a person? That's what I tend to believe. Can it be distracting? Yes. Does it have to be? No. Can it be complimentary? Yes, that's the goal. For the different things you do as a person, whether it's parenting, music, travel, to make you more capable and interesting and extraordinary person as a whole.

Aaron Ross:

No matter what you do, including in sales, you're going to be better performer.

Ryan O'Hara:

One thing that I think you can do as a sales leader to, to figure this stuff out, we do this thing ... Maybe we'll make something for this and give it out to people. But one of the things we suggest people do is, do a talent on it. When someone comes in, no one grows up and says, "Boy, I can't wait to work in sales." It just accidentally happens for a lot of people.

Aaron Ross:

True.

Ryan O'Hara:

I love our sales team. We have someone that used to caddy in Miami. We have someone that used to, they make R&B songs on the side. There's random passion things. It's that person that works at your company isn't just like an outlier. That's how it all is. When I was at Dime, we had a guy that worked that was a musician who used to play, every weekend he'd be playing a show. We had someone that toured with the Arcade Fire, and then his band broke up. He was doing this to pay the bills and figure out what he wanted to do next. You go down the list of a sales team, there's so many unique characters there with different skill sets.

Ryan O'Hara:

You're a manager [crosstalk 00:39:18] and you want to inspire people and get them to be more motivated, figure out a way to figure out how to get that stuff into their work, and they'll like working more. Going through the [inaudible 00:39:29] of hitting 90 activities a day, or whatever goal you set up a manager, is going to be a lot easier if they're doing stuff that they love during some of that. Maybe they're using a video prospecting platform, grabbing a guitar and making a song for a prospect. We did that by the way in 40% of the meetings booked, doing experiment with that.

Aaron Ross:

I got to try that though. My guitar skills are ... I think too, it doesn't have to be something that they combine into their sales work. It could be just them talking about it with ... If you were a manager, maybe just talk about it with them and just you know what they do, and it's interesting. There's so many people who think they're not interesting. Again, I couldn't say if it's half or 90%, but so many people think, "Oh, you know, this isn't interesting," and they're completely wrong, you're completely wrong. Everyone's got those kinds of interests. Whether they're active, like you've actually done it like guitar or whether it's just something you've wanted to do, whether you ...

Aaron Ross:

This guy I remember I asked, he collects change. He had 200 pounds of change in a couple drawers. That's cool. There's whole story there. I didn't get to it [inaudible 00:40:33]. How that started or where he gets it. Everyone's got things that are fascinating about them. They may not realize it, but I think some people hold themselves back because, it's like, "Ah, I'm not good at it, or other people don't care, or I'm too busy," or there's all these other reasons. I think it helps. I've seen it even on our own team is, as a manager, you can start the conversations around passions and projects that aren't at work, and actually have some time to do that and get to know them and vice versa.

Aaron Ross:

Then a lot more of that connection between people happens as well, you're sharing personal details with other people and exchanging them and stories. When we switch from in person to virtual a lot of that went away and needs to be brought back in some way.

Ryan O'Hara:

One of the things I love that you're saying to actually makes me think, it's of a weird place for us to talk about it, because we're all men. But I remember I went to a woman in sales breakfasts where Richardson put on in New Hampshire. One of the things she was talking about is that, a lot of women actually sell themselves short a ton when it comes to looking for work. They don't talk about achievements and stuff. One of the things she also talked about is, finding things that make yourself interesting. I think, yeah, we're talking about it for everybody, but I actually think that on the women's side, there's so many cool things that you don't hear about as much from people not selling themselves short.

Ryan O'Hara:

My wife, for example, thinks that she's boring, but she's super good at writing. She's really funny. She writes great copy, which ... She's not in marketing anymore, but she used to be. She writes great copy for stuff. She inspires me and gives me ideas all the time. Maybe you're someone like this guy, Brian McCall that I used to work with, had a really great Nikon camera. He used to take pictures of bands. He'd go see a band live and take pictures of it, and then he'd send the photos to the bands, and then they'd like, invite him there next time, they were doing shows and stuff.

Ryan O'Hara:

He had all these really cool connections in the music industry and a lot of cool stories. There's a guy at Gong Danny Hutto, who used to be a roadie for Panic At The Disco and a bunch of bands like that. There's all these cool, unique life experiences that you could splice into your prospecting, and use to be interesting with people. If I find a prospect that's a CEO, and maybe they like, you look on their Facebook page and saw that they like a band that you worked with, or ... I'm just going down the list of different things you can take in life and splice it in.

Ryan O'Hara:

You got to find something that's interesting. I think a thing that that might be true too Aaron that you're talking about right now especially, is right now's a good time to get into some new hobbies if you don't have any.

Aaron Ross:

I am. There's never been a bad time, but this is especially a good time. There's never been a better time.

Rishi Mathur:

If we are complimenting girlfriends, I would like to say mine is great. She's amazing. What else do you want me to say? She's phenomenal.

Ryan O'Hara:

The thing is if you're a sales leader listening to this, you have to find a way to ... Don't be the man shutting down rock and roll. Figure out a way to get people to talk about themselves more. We're at a place now where there's so many companies where reps are robotic. They're sending templates, Excel scripts, they can't go off [crosstalk 00:44:01].

Aaron Ross:

They're clocking in clocking out.

Ryan O'Hara:

If you go back to like 1920 and look at door to door sales, the way that they scaled sales pitches is you'd walk up to a door, the only thing that you'd have personalized would be things you might notice in their yard, a car, a piece of technology, you knock on a door and you read a script. When the cold calling was first invented, all they did was take those door to door scripts and start doing them on phones. Then when email came out, they copied and pasted those scripts and made them into emails, LinkedIn messenger, same thing. It's basically happening over and over again.

Ryan O'Hara:

The thing is so many more things are now there and available that you can find about people, and so many more things are available that you can get into that you can talk about. Business has changed a lot. It used to be that, professional life was completely different from your home life. But things like smartphones have ruined that basically, because I have work emails, work calls that I'm on, Slack. All the stuff is on my phone. I might be on a hike with my wife or on a bike ride, and I have to get to these things. But that overlap gives permission to let that part into your work life.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, it's a blessing and a curse and I think that's why ... At least one of the reasons there's more burnout is, it's like a lot of people haven't had to practice boundaries between work and home. I've been remote for 10 years or more and with kids the whole time. Even I know, it's still hard. I was late, 15 minutes for this because my three year old was just so attached, and at that point, for a interview, I'm not going to push her off. At that point she's going to cry. I appreciate being flexible on start time. I think people just need to get to practicing this, how do I navigate these boundaries, when I'm like working and focus there, versus maybe with, friends or my wife or I have kids.

Aaron Ross:

There's a lot of people where this is all new, and it's going to take months and months or a year or two years to kind of really get into more rhythms that way.

Ryan O'Hara:

One thing ... Oh, go ahead, sorry.

Aaron Ross:

Speaking of which we'll have to have to wrap since I've got a board meeting here shortly [crosstalk 00:46:01].

Ryan O'Hara:

Yeah, that's okay. One last question I wanted to ask you before we wrap up. How do you take these passions, and figure out the right balance of them turning into motivation and relatability without it turning into like, this person's making this a distraction from doing actual work and getting stuff done?

Aaron Ross:

Well, that's a good question. I think a lot of it just comes to from when you're ... As much as you can, feeling and speaking I would say see from the heart, things that feel real. We all do things that are honest that way, and we all do things to get attention whether we see it or not. When you're doing things to get attention, just of hog people's attention, you're going to get toward that distraction. When you do things that are really from the heart, you're not. A lot of it is trial and error. For me, it can be over the course of months and years. It's all a question finding yourself, like who you are, what you want to stand for what you're interested in talking about, who you want to work with or not, and that never stops, because life never stops changing.

Aaron Ross:

There's not an easy answer, except probably just continue to talk to your, who is your family or your coworkers or prospects, and be open for signals or feedback that something's not helping.

Ryan O'Hara:

One last thing, I guess, do you want to plug anything since we're on here? Do you want to tell anyone about anything you're working on?

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, as you know, in my mind I'm thinking, "Okay, the next book I do is going to be one on unique genius." Is that saying I'm going to do it? Yeah, I think there's some space for some ... We'll see. Because, again, I think the whole topic of diversity is so important to me too. We have a very diverse family with kids biological and adopted and multiple races and ages. I'm not sure yet. I would encourage everyone to try this we call it unique genius call, if your company or friends or some circle of maybe it's like five to 12 people to get together, to kind of talk about these side projects and help each other, accept them and encourage them and take some steps on them.

Aaron Ross:

The one thing I'll plug is, the predictable ... Sorry. Actually, The Impossible to Inevitable book, the one I did with Jason Lemkin you mentioned, it was updated and it's still like the best ... Whenever there's entrepreneurs and start people, and people want to do businesses, and who are trying to figure how to grow and grow their income, I just keep going back to say, "Wow, it's in that section. It's in that section. It's in that section." It's like, it's so much of it. Everything that's not unique genius is in that book. Everything in my head that's a value pretty much that's related to making my businesses and making money is in that book for now?

Aaron Ross:

I'm not going to do that. I don't see doing another book like that. But next one's going to be very different if it's unique genius or not. I don't really feel about parenting quite yet. But yeah, so impossible book I would send you to at this point from impossible.com. It's a good landing page for it.

Ryan O'Hara:

Well, that's great. Aaron, thank you very much for being on. I feel like we learned a lot actually and you're so wise. I just wanted to be quiet the whole time and just let you talk for the whole time.

Aaron Ross:

Blah, blah, blah, blah, but yeah well-

Ryan O'Hara:

It was great having you on.

Aaron Ross:

Appreciate it.

Ryan O'Hara:

You were great. Thank you very much for being on.

Aaron Ross:

Yeah, thanks. Appreciate it, guys.

Ryan O'Hara:

Holy crap, Aaron Ross, dude.

Rishi Mathur:

What?

Ryan O'Hara:

He's so Zen. Everything he says is wise.

Rishi Mathur:

Yeah, he's a guru. He's a legit guru.

Ryan O'Hara:

He's a living legend basically. What I want to do is, I want to bring home what Aaron said a little bit for sales leadership right now, so that you're listening to this and understanding it. Couple things, reps miss quotas a lot of the time. Biggest reason reps miss quotas is because, they might have external factors like stress going on. It could be environmental. Maybe they have something going on in their life. Some of them obviously don't work hard and stuff. If you want to motivate someone, you need to find a way to get their passion into their work.

Ryan O'Hara:

It might sound fluffy and millennial and all that stuff, and maybe you're thinking like, "I don't care. In my day, I just sold and got hit by books by my boss," like he beat me with a phone book. We're not telling you that you have to change. But we're saying that this is what's happening today, if you want to motivate. All we care about at the end of the day is results. We want our culture to be good. We want to set a good culture for our sales team, but we also want to have results. To motivate and get your reps out there to do things, find ways to let your reps put themselves into their prospecting, and put themselves into their selling.

Ryan O'Hara:

If they're passionate about football, maybe they talk about football with a prospect or a deal that they're working in their pipeline. If they're passionate about music, maybe they talk about music. Maybe let them try and experiment with prospecting, where they do stuff with music. If they know magic, if they like writing, anything that they want to do, you find a way to give them a cookie crumb of enabling the thing that they're passionate about and splice down to their work life and they'll perform better. By the way, it totally makes sense. It worked for me.

Ryan O'Hara:

When I was at BDR, I always hit quota. One of the reasons I hit quota all the time, was because I was able to do cool, fun, creative stuff when I was prospecting. I like to make music. I'd make music for prospects and send it to them. I like making videos and they would let me go grab a camera and just film goofy videos sometimes, and put it on the marketing channel for stuff. I do that here at LeadIQ now. This show is actually a good example of this. Find a way right now to enable your rep to do something that they're passionate about and splice it into their work life, and you're going to have a happier employer.

Ryan O'Hara:

You're going to have someone that attacks their job and wants to do well. Aaron said it best and Aaron's done this talking with other sales teams all over the world about this. He's finding something that's going to be the next wave, of how sales managers are more successful in getting their reps to exceed quota. Do you have anything to add, Rishi?

Rishi Mathur:

No, I think you did it perfectly. Why ruin a perfect ending?

Ryan O'Hara:

You know what'd be a perfect ending Rishi, if you just pack your things, put in that covered box and get out.

Rishi Mathur:

Okay, sounds good. [crosstalk 00:52:04].

Ryan O'Hara:

Hey, there's no reason to be upset. Everything's great. Thank you everyone, for joining. One of the things that we're going to put together for you is, we'll put together a template that you can use for talent on it, and we'll send that to you and you can take a look at that. I think that sounds like a cool asset thing that we can do to help you figure out what your reps are good at, and you can build into something in your curriculum, when you're onboarding new hires and existing hires, so that they're happier at work. Hopefully this was helpful. Thanks again, Aaron Ross.

Ryan O'Hara:

Everyone go check out predictablerevenue.com. He's got books you can check. Look up Aaron Ross on Amazon. You can get all his books that he has. If Rishi you want to plug anything too bad, we're ending the episode so see you later.

Rishi Mathur:

Actually I got to plug one thing, Aaron Ross just hired me, so peace.